When it comes to tackling a big problem or challenge, there’s nothing like a trusted partner on your side. It’s why many organizations turned to Managed Service Providers during the pandemic to deploy new tools for remote work and to protect their users and data. But there’s a lot more opportunities for MSPs to grow and sustain these important relationships.
My guest today is John Dusett, Executive Director of US Cloud Services for Ingram MicroCloud. He’ll explain why the MSP is an increasingly valuable resource as we continue to navigate the world of hybrid work and new ways to add value and revenue.
Let’s get to it.
In this episode:
Ingram MicroCloud, the business that I’m responsible for, is well known to people that are in the IT channel. And in the IT channel, we work with the tech companies and the suppliers and resellers that are out there solving problems for end customers every day.
I like to explain that we’re kind of a company that brings together the innovators (the Microsoft’s and the Cisco’s and the AWS’s and the AvePoint’s) with the problem solvers (which are the IT providers and Managed Service Providers that companies come to know as the ones who solve on-the-ground IT challenges for them.)
The MSP Industry
I mentioned Managed Service Providers—MSPs. MSPs are a growing community of IT service providers to end businesses. Large enterprises often turn to an MSP for their deep expertise in a particular area or to provide some agility or scale. Smaller companies, on the other hand, turn to MSPs very often to outsource their IT function altogether.
A lot of companies turn to an MSP because first, they recognize that it can be less expensive than doing it themselves and provides a better use of capital expense. Then, the customers who used MSPs successfully realize that the MSP brings them agility—the ability to make changes faster and gives them scale. If you’re a business, those create competitive advantage and better employee experience. So, it’s not just about saving money, it’s actually about helping your business grow. It’s a space I’ve been in a long time. I love helping businesses find ways to improve.
It’s been a growing industry, and recently it’s become really important as end businesses are looking for ways to deal with rapid change, scale, and in particular, the move to the cloud. And that’s the beauty of these MSPs that are emerging and finding more and more importance. They’re finding success in the market.
MSP’s Role in the Global Pandemic
The IT industry and IT providers came front and center in early 2020 when the world suddenly had to deal with the coronavirus. People were looking to solve problems inside their business, and IT companies—MSPs in particular—were already in a position to help, where they brought in expertise and services to help a company. They weren’t just selling them a product. They were really coming in and helping solve problems. They were in high demand to help with the ability to take all the workers and help them work remote.
Even my organization has accomplished something which I’m very much proud of: we sent 2000 people all home within a couple days with what they needed to be productive—a laptop, a video conferencing tool, a VPN maybe—and they were off and running. MSPs all over the world had to do that for their customers.
And I think largely it was a great success story that we were able to help so many companies be able to achieve that. It took time. It wasn’t without some challenges along the way, but it was a great success. And it showed the importance of certain things, like the cloud, which was front and center because it was that scalable, easy to deploy solution that allowed people to continue operating their businesses and serve their customers.
The case studies and success stories are starting now to come out as people talk about it. You even featured one on one of your Shift Happens Podcasts last year (which people should go back and listen to) about the government down in Tasmania—the Devonport. What a great example of an organization that had to pivot. And they were working with a cloud provider that allowed them to do it just like that.
MSP Trends Due to Cloud Adoption
There were changes about the ability for people to work remote and for people to have conversations like this remotely. I think the initial challenge was just all about the sheer volume of what it was. But what has happened is that the challenge has shifted, and it’s really now about what I call the sustainability of those changes that we’ve made. And sustainability isn’t just about keeping what we have, but it’s the evolution and ability to make change something that we can continue to adopt inside of our organizations.
For example, thousands of companies and millions of workers all went home to work remote. It was a huge feat. And then, after they got through that wave, they all suddenly realized they needed a way to secure all those workers and their data. And then they needed to be able to manage and optimize the expenses related to this new infrastructure that they had just created. And so effectively, what happens is, end customers and their MSPs went right onto the next challenge, which is how do we adopt a whole new playbook for policies and governance and management? And to me that was that next big challenge, which we’re still in the midst of and MSPs are solving for customers every day.
The second big challenge that I’ve observed is about the consumption of the technology that’s out there. And maybe this is a little bit more about the MSPs helping end customers, but it’s this idea that you want the customers to fully take advantage of the technology that they’ve deployed. It’s more like adoption and change management and what I call customer success. How do you drive customer success?
Customer Success: Explained in Ingram’s State of the Cloud Channel
My team at Ingram MicroCloud just completed another study that we refer to as the State of the Cloud Channel. We surveyed 1100 MSPs in the US market, and it’s very clear that the vast majority of them are increasing their investments in customer success. They realized that they’ve helped other customers get remote and start using the cloud, but that’s not enough. They really have to help those end customers use all of the tools that are available to them.
Because if not, the customers would end up looking at this like it’s just a transactional relationship, that they’re just buying a product from you. And so, that becomes not very value-add. Secondly, those customers tend to go look for somebody else to solve their problem.
MSPs should be aware that if they’re not thinking about customer success, there are some risks that they have inside their business. It’s the reason why every opportunity I get, I talk about customer success. It’s going to be the key to the long-term adoption of the great technology that we have.
MSPs vs. Ransomware Attacks
I think it’s fair to say that when we talk within the channel, within the IT industry, people understand ransomware. But the amount of headline news that there is around ransomware means that more and more end customers are also becoming aware of it. Still, I think there’s a tremendous amount of education that needs to happen at the end customer level around ransomware.
This is going to sound a little fundamental, but we’re still very much in the education phase and we just need to move quickly, not within the channel, but with our customers. We need to be out having conversation, providing them paths, explaining to them that doing nothing isn’t an option. This isn’t all about the fear of it. It’s why I published that LinkedIn article about ransomware.
Untapped Opportunities: How to Grow Your MSP
Our mission is to help MSPs and IT resellers be successful. There’s three big things—and they’re fairly connected—that we’ve been focusing on since the pandemic.
- Customer Success: MSPs must balance the amount of energy and time they put into customer acquisition with customer success. What that boils down to is investing and building out customer success inside the MSP organization. It’s this liberate focus on helping a customer fully adopt and utilize the technologies and services that the MSP is providing.
- If you’re moving into the cloud business or expanding, think of the cloud services that you’re going to provide as an extension of the core competencies that have gotten you to the success you’ve seen so far. We encourage MSPs to understand how they differentiate themselves and to be thoughtful in building their chosen practice areas.
- Operate with a deliberate sales and marketing plan. You will see an immediate difference in the way that you execute success as compared to when you don’t have one. It’s going to give you a better vision as to what you want to accomplish with your customers and how you could get there.
#ShiftHappens at Ingram Micro
2022 is yet another exciting year for us. We’re coming off of everything that we’ve seen in terms of helping the market.
Here’s the interesting thing. The beauty of it is that we don’t see that the strategy that we have has to change. The things that we are doing today for our community of MSPs and IT resellers will continue to be the things that we focus on. Again, it’s helping them build customer success in their business, fueling those practice areas, and helping them with their business plans.
Also, our investments in growing our business this year are going to be pretty significant. We announced in December the opening of a big office in Miami and in Scottsdale, Arizona. We’re also adding a ton of deep experts in technology, sales, and marketing inside the business. So, our organization is going to be focused this year on that expansion so we can serve more partners and MSPs in the market. The strategy doesn’t change because it’s proved to be the right one, but it’s about us doing more of that for more of our partners.
Today’s takeaway from John:
“It’s so important for MSPs to get the lifetime value out of a customer that they’ve obviously put some energy into acquiring. It is really the essence of a successful business model for an MSP and a successful end customer.”
John’s LinkedIn Ransomware article: Ransomware Protection in the Hybrid Cloud | LinkedIn
Ingram Micro’s State of the Cloud Channel study: State of the Channel 2021 (ingrammicrocloud.com)
AvePoint product mentioned: Policies & Insights for Microsoft 365 | Security for Microsoft 365 | AvePoint
What else is there?
Join John, Ingram MicroCloud, AvePoint, and other tech innovators on May 17th through 19th to talk all about cloud at this year’s Cloud Summit. Check out more details here: Cloud Summit ’22 (ingrammicrocloudsummit.com)
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